2020 has been a year like no other, with organisations facing unprecedented challenges and changes to the way they operate because of COVID-19. Yet, it is the individuals within these organisations who have felt the biggest impact on their lives – both professional and personal. From limitations on their social interactions, leisure time and even working habits.
Humley recently undertook a survey to assess the impact of the COVID-19 on 300 full time UK employees and to understand their wellbeing and how this might influence future HR.
HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC CHANGED HOW WE WORK
Coronavirus has changed the world of work forever and more teams are now working remotely, with many of the larger London firms already saying they are in no rush to get staff back in the office.
This means many organisations are faced with vast swathes of their employees working from home or in remote locations some or all of the time. This presents organisations and HR Teams with the challenge of how they keep connected with their workforce to not only ensure productivity but also the wellbeing of their teams.
HOW HAS WORKING FROM HOME & THE PANDEMIC IMPACTED EMPLOYEE WELLBEING?
69% of individuals surveyed stated that the recent change in working practises has moderately impacted their wellbeing, with 9% saying it has severely affected them. With over half of our lives spent at work, it is hardly surprising that such a dramatic change in our daily routines has had some impact to our mental health.
How has the change to working from home or remotely impacted employees wellbeing and mental health?
In addition, the survey found the main areas negatively contributing to employee wellbeing and productivity when working remotely included low motivation, isolation as a result of not being able to connect with colleagues as easily, difficulties balancing personal and work time and technology issues.
Over 30% of those surveyed stated that balancing their time was the biggest challenge they have faced when working remotely. In a traditional office environment, occasionally an employee’s role might require them to say late or work additional hours to complete a specific project. This is something many employees are happy to do if it does not happen too frequently and because of the separation of the office environment and home. When working remotely, there is no separate of the office and personal environment. It becomes increasingly difficult to ‘switch off’ and many employees have found themselves working overtime, leading to additional stress and unhappiness.
Top Challenges Impacting Employees when Working from Home
Furthermore, traditional solutions to the problem of overworking such as booking a holiday are becoming less popular with employees. The perceived benefits of working from home such as eliminating the daily commute and increased flexibility, mean that many employees are reluctant to book time off because there is still the perception that working from home enables a better balance of time. However, as the excitement of remote working wears off, it becomes more difficult to balance time and the need for taking annual leave is more important than ever to ensure motivation and wellbeing.
HOW CAN HR TEAMS BETTER SUPPORT EMPLOYEE WELLBEING?
Nearly 60% of the individuals surveyed said that they would like to continue to work from home or remotely some of the time following beyond the COVID-19 restrictions and 31% said they would like to work remotely all of the time. With such big demand for organisations, to continue to support remote working, how do HR teams manage, motivate, and safeguard their employees?
PROVIDE EMPLOYEES WITH ON DEMAND INFORMATION
In traditional workplace environments, it is easy and common for employees to ask questions and get the information they need in face to face interactions, but when working from home this becomes more difficult and time consuming –especially when the limitations of shared support desks and remote employee interactions are considered.
Employees are then forced to either navigate complex systems such as HR or Sales platforms or even worse, are reluctant to ask the questions in the first place – leading to misinformation and inhibiting productivity. Therefore, providing employees with the ability to effectively ‘self-serve’ when and wherever they are is becoming a top priority for HR and technology leaders.
Digital Support Assistants enable employees to find the information they require and automate tasks 24/7 within a conversational interface. Minimizing the need to navigate complex systems and burdening People Teams with a multitude of repetitive emails and tasks. Types of communications HR Teams typically receive include, but are not limited to annual leave requests, payroll updates, policy information and even meeting room booking and timesheet updates.
Not only do these platforms automate the repetitive admin work from HR Teams and employees, but they also enable organisations to communicate more effectively and consistently across their remote workforce and through any channel (voice or digital). For many organisations and HR Teams, this also means being able to provide consistent and tailored real time support across multiple time zones. This will be essential in ensuring that employees are informed and compliant, but also connected regardless of their location, ensuring that they are productive, happy, and motivated.
IDENTIFY ISSUES BEFORE THEY BECOME WIDESPREAD
Digital HR Assistants could help HR Teams identify potential employee wellbeing issues in real time and develop effective solutions quickly via intuitive dashboards and analytics.
Humley’s HR Assistant provides People Teams with prebuilt and customisable dashboards and reports, which track metrics such as FAQs triggered, employee feedback and volume of communications. These metrics provide HR experts with an insight into employee satisfaction and proactively help to identify trends which could impact the long-term success of an organisation.
For example, an HR department might be receiving a high number of requests from employees asking about a holiday allowance or trying to book time off. This could indicate high levels of stress across the workforce, which may ultimately lead to people leaving. Through better visibility of data, HR Teams can address these trends before they start to have a long-term negative impact on the employee’s wellbeing and on the wider organization.
EASIER ACCESS TO MENTAL HEALTH ADVICE & SUPPORT
Digital Assistants can even support employee’s wellbeing by enabling them to seek advice without the need to speak to a person. Not only allowing employees to remain anonymous, but also providing the right information and advice whenever they need it.. Crucially, Digital AI Assistants not only enable employees to access the information and support they need, but also frees up HR Teams to focus strategic tasks such as leadership development and future planning.
PUT THE HUMAN BACK INTO HR
Technology applications are great tools for providing employees with on demand support and information, however, they do not replace interpersonal and empathetic traits which are intrinsic to the HR role. Applications such as Digital Assistants should therefore be used to augment HR Teams, freeing them up to focus on dealing with complex and sensitive issues, building relationships with employees and developing support structures for the workforce.
In conclusion, in these challenging times, it is more important than ever to understand employees to ensure that they are connected and supported. Through combining technology and human support, HR Teams will be able to ensure the wellbeing and future success of their organisations and people.
If you would like to find out more about Digital AI Assistants get in touch today to start your 30 day free trial.
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